SecurityBrief Asia logo
Asia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Partner content
Story image

How PAM can help to prevent major security disasters like Colonial Pipeline

FYI, this story is more than a year old

When a cyber attack on the United States Colonial Pipeline erupted in May this year, the fallout across the eastern region of the United States was almost unthinkable.

Not only did the attack result in the shutdown of 5,5000 miles of pipeline—causing higher fuel prices and long lines at the pump — but more than 100 gigabytes of data were also stolen. Five days into the shutdown, Colonial Pipeline finally relented to the attackers' demands and paid a ransom of US$4.4 million, but much more work remains to be done to scrub systems and fix vulnerabilities.

From an analysis of Colonial Pipeline's systems, the breach was found to originate from a dormant virtual private network profile that should have been removed long ago. The attackers hijacked the privileged account using stolen credentials, and then used this initial access point as a springboard to spread across the network and deploy the ransomware. When an account has privileged access — especially when that access is not properly controlled — it enables a threat actor to fast-track their attack.

Colonial Pipeline wasn't the first organisation in the industrial sector to face cyber-attacks, and it certainly won't be the last. The NotPetya attack in 2017 brought Ukraine to its knees and even shut down computers at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. And, in the last year, we've seen such brazen attacks increasing.

Cybersecurity for critical infrastructure and operational technology (OT) needs to address many different environments, such as on-premise, in the cloud, and the internet of things. The attack surface is expanding as digital transformation presses forward and more things are being connected to each other and potentially exposed to the Internet. This new attack surface is also driving the proliferation of privileged accounts — for both human and machine identities.

This access needs to brought under IT control and robustly managed and monitored. However, absent the right tools, privilege management can be difficult when privileged accounts are being created left, right, and centre. Often, as in the cloud, these accounts are also ephemeral.

Take remote access, for example. The OT landscape is vastly different from the days when industrial systems needed cumbersome proprietary software and protocols with no flexibility. Now, analytics, automation, and integrations are blending to create modernised systems that cater to the needs of vendors, employees, suppliers, and contractors.

Traditionally, OT maintenance and repairs are conducted through SCADA systems, and this often takes place on-site or through remote support. Connections typically offer no monitoring or auditing, no granular control, and are not routed through a secure system. However, all remote support should be treated as a form of privileged access.

According to privileged access management (PAM) specialist BeyondTrust, organisations operating OT infrastructure can help enable a secure foundation by embracing the universal privilege management approach to managed every privileged user, asset, and session — whether it involves a human, machine, employee, or vendor. This approach encompasses the domains of privileged password management, secure remote access, and endpoint privilege management.

BeyondTrust provides a complete privileged access management (PAM) platform. In the case of the Colonial Pipeline breach, BeyondTrust's Secure Remote Access solution could have prevented multiple phases of the attack, including stopping it from gaining an initial foothold.

BeyondTrust's solution provides locked-down access without the use of a VPN to connect remote plant operators to critical and sensitive systems. The solution provides visibility into every session, requires approvals and sign-in for vendors, and provides features such as granular control over session parameters, automatic reporting, and meets compliance mandates.

Furthermore, BeyondTrust Secure Remote Access enables organisations to manage access without sacrificing user experience, productivity, or security.

Additionally, BeyondTrust's Endpoint Privilege Management solution would have also stopped the malware deployed in the Colonial Pipeline attack by the Darkside group at multiple stages by applying least privilege and application control.

BeyondTrust Secure Remote Access, which includes a Remote Support product, also delivers benefits around routine maintenance and troubleshooting. For example, BeyondTrust provides granular controls that enable operators and service desks to set session parameters to define maintenance session length, network access, approval, and log-in processes.

By securing remote access pathways, enforcing least-privilege across all access, and enforcing credential security best practices — even for vendors and non-human accounts — BeyondTrust helps to significantly harden the attack surfaces for OT and other environments.

See how using PAM can help you defend against ransomware attacks such as Darkside. Watch the video now.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity
Continuous attack attempts discovered on Atlassian Confluence zero day
Following a coordinated disclosure of a zero-day vulnerability by Volexity in Atlassian Confluence, attackers went wild to exploit it.
Story image
Malware
Mandiant uncovers malware ecosystem deployed on VMware hypervisors and guest systems
Mandiant research has uncovered a novel malware ecosystem that was found deployed on VMware hypervisors and guest systems by an advanced and suspected China nexus threat actor.
Story image
Microsoft
Yubico research finds concerning trends around authentication security practices
A new global survey from Yubico has found that 59% of employees still rely on usernames and passwords as the primary method to authenticate their accounts.
Story image
Malware
Black Lotus Labs discovers new, multipurpose malware
Black Lotus Labs, the threat intelligence team at Lumen, has discovered a new, rapidly growing, multipurpose malware written in the Go programming language.
Story image
Apple
Jamf shows intent to acquire mobile security firm ZecOps
This acquisition positions Jamf to help IT and security teams strengthen their organisation’s mobile security posture.
Story image
Work from home
Jamf showcases new products to simplify and secure work
At the 13th annual Jamf Nation User Conference, the company shared how its continuous product innovation is helping organisations succeed with Apple.
Story image
Network Management
Fortinet introduces enhanced AIOps across its gateways
FortiAIOps builds on Fortinet's rich history of developing artificial intelligence to deliver actionable network insights for self-optimising management.
Story image
Kaspersky
Cybersecurity loopholes prevalent in South East Asia
In terms of the share of vulnerabilities with publicly available exploits, three countries out of top five are located in Southeast Asia.
Story image
Virtual Private Network
95% of organisation rely on VPN as threats continue - report
There is a growing number of VPN-specific security threats and a need for Zero Trust security architecture in enterprise-level organisations.
Story image
IT Training
Six ways to transform your cybersecurity training and influence lasting change
If the goal is to win hearts and minds, formal awareness training can fall short and often doesn’t inspire people to care.
Story image
Cloud
How modern IT architectures are moving beyond network visibility
Dealing with multiple cloud providers makes it difficult to identify security threats and performance bottlenecks and troubleshoot issues.
Story image
Mobile Device Management
How to easily scale your mobile workforce and devices for the peak shopping season
Retailers are under constant pressure to streamline processes and become more efficient while looking for ways to improve customer satisfaction levels.
Story image
Malware
Decrease in malware volume, but surge in encrypted malware
The Q2 Internet Security Report found office exploits continue to spread more than any other category of malware.
Story image
Phishing
Vectra Protect team finds Microsoft Teams vulnerability
The Vectra Protect team identified a post-exploitation opportunity in August, allowing malicious actors to steal valid user credentials from Microsoft Teams.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Test your API Security with Infinite API Scanner
The effectiveness of API scanning technology can mean the difference between successful and unsuccessful programming outcomes, and often enterprises and IT leaders struggle to get it right.
Story image
Software-as-a-Service
Enterprises yet to fully commit to cybersecurity - CompTIA
“Digital transformation driven by cloud and mobile adoption requires a new strategic approach to cybersecurity, but this poses significant challenges."
Story image
Legacy
Trellix enables greater cyber resiliency with extended XDR platform
"Legacy SIEM technology has failed to modernise security operations. We are confident Trellix XDR fills this critical gap.”
Story image
Data Protection
99% of security experts unhappy with tokenisation investment
Cybersecurity experts are looking for a solution that provides the strength of tokenisation while removing the friction that has accompanied it in the past.
Story image
Edge Security
Security practices for modernising the “spaghetti” of on-premises IT
Many organisations are wondering how to securely modernise their workload, often made up of a “spaghetti” of on-premises applications and management consoles.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Best practices for industrial cyber resilience
Operational technology (OT) security is gaining more attention than ever before, but sufficient understanding of what it takes to prevent breaches is still lacking amongst many organisations.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Ransomware attacks continue to increase, report finds
Nearly a quarter of businesses have suffered a ransomware attack, with a fifth occurring in the past 12 months.
Story image
Malware
Cybereason delivers nation-state level of protection to enterprises
Cybereason has announced new advancements in Cybereason NGAV that deliver nation-state level protection for organisations of all sizes.
Story image
Firewall
Forrester names Akamai as web application firewall leader
"We continually monitor and improve our capabilities to defend customers from new threats, while enabling customers to protect evolving attack surfaces."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Employees unsure who to go to to report security incident
A new study shows more than 20% of the untrained global workforce do not know who to contact during a security breach.
Story image
Malware
Kaspersky uncovers new malicious malware NullMixer
Kaspersky researchers have uncovered a new malware stealing users credentials, address, credit card data, cryptocurrencies, and accounts.
Story image
Cybersecurity
De-risking the innovation cycle – a modern, real-time approach to security
Many organisations see cybersecurity as an inhibitor of innovation, with burdensome protection measures standing in the way of progress and speed.
Story image
Secure Code Warrior
Secure Code Warrior announces Coding Labs innovation
Coding Labs mechanisms allow developers to move from learning to applying secure coding knowledge more efficiently, leading to fewer code vulnerabilities.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Ordr improves security and management of connected devices
It has implemented more than 80 integrations within the Ordr Data Lake while adding security enhancements to accelerate zero trust segmentation.
Story image
Cybersecurity
StackHawk launches deeper API security test coverage
Expansion of test coverage includes custom scan discovery, custom test scripts and custom test data for REST APIs.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from SearchInform
Val Novoselova joins us today to to discuss new trends in the information security space, and how SearchInform is adapting to some of the new trends we are seeing.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
Hybrid cloud security driving need for deep observability
Gigamon is bringing application and network-level intelligence together to help network, security, and cloud IT operations teams eliminate security blind spots.
Aws Marketplace
Learn how to implement a backup and recovery plan for a new generation of Kubernetes-based modern applications
Link image
Story image
Software-as-a-Service
Varonis adds secrets discovery to data classification
The data security firm announces enhancements that detect and remediate overexposed private keys, encryption certificates, API keys, and authentication tokens.
Story image
Enterprise
Delinea shares the importance of PAM, partners and security for modern enterprise
Identity-based security is becoming a crucial tool for modern enterprises as they continue to adapt to different working environments.
Story image
Ransomware
Delinea updates DevOps security, remote access more seamless
New enhancements include development support on the most recent Mac computers and improved secrets' management usability through automation.
Story image
Data Protection
Cloudflare brings Data Localisation Suite to more APAC businesses
This allows any business in these countries to service their data locally while benefiting from the speed, security, and scalability of Cloudflare’s global network.
AWS Marketplace
Whitepaper: A practical guide for mitigating risk in today’s modern applications
Link image
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Fortinet advances AIOps to aid the hybrid workforce
"We’re continuing our commitment to AI innovation by delivering AIOps capabilities across our robust portfolio of enterprise networking technology."
Story image
Cloud Security
75% of AU companies had cloud security incident in past year
According to new Venafi research, complexity is due to increase, as companies plan to host more applications in the cloud.
Story image
Threat intelligence
Trellix advances threat intelligence with new research centre
Trellix has announced the establishment of the Trellix Advanced Research Center to advance global threat intelligence.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Macroeconomic headwinds driving security up priority list
Current macroeconomic headwinds are driving security up enterprise’s priority list and reshaping the hardware Security Module market.